Despite using Nigeria to push her candidacy for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, former Minister of Finance in the country, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has taken up American citizenship.
According to Bloomberg, Okonjo-Iweala took the US citizenship in 2019.
Nigeria had in July nominated the former Minister of Finance as its candidate for the WTO top job.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this known in an official announcement through the Nigerian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In the diplomatic note to inform all member countries’ embassies and permanent missions, President Buhari said he was communicating Nigeria’s decision to withdraw the candidacy of Yonov Frederick Agah for the election.
The President said Okonjo-Iweala would serve as Nigeria’s candidate for the term 2021–2025 at the elections scheduled for Geneva, Switzerland, in 2021.
Findings by SaharaReporters showed that a foreigner planning to become a naturalised American citizen must renounce his or her country and attend an oath-swearing ceremony to plead allegiance to the United States of America.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform non-combatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God,” a naturalisation oath of allegiance to USA seen by SaharaReporters read.
Also, the Nigerian constitution forbids someone, who ditches his or her citizenship from holding elective post in the country.
The provision in the constitution, however, excludes those, who are Nigerian by birth.
“It’s not uncommon for international civil servants who spend long stretches working abroad to take a second citizenship, especially when their families have been living overseas with them,” a spokesperson for Okonjo-Iweala told Bloomberg.
Former WTO DG, Roberto Azevedo, officially stepped down on Monday, and eight candidates are vying for the position including the former Nigerian minister.
Other candidates are Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Amina Mohamed (Kenya), Jesús Kuri (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), Yoo Myung-hee (Korea), Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia), and Liam Fox (UK).
The newspaper said about two other candidates for the top WTO job disclosed multiple nationalities on their biographies posted online by the Geneva-based organisation but Okonjo-Iweala’s bio doesn’t mention dual citizenship, which showed the Nigerian Government may not be aware she’s now a citizen of USA.
“She was nominated by Nigeria but decided to ditch the country for USA. That’s bad, why not wait till after the election, that’s unpatriotic on her side. This is someone who was minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria twice,” an economist told SaharaReporters.